Blackhawks to build facility for team practice and community skating

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Wednesday they will build a practice facility and community ice center on the land currently occupied by Malcolm X College in Chicago.

The facility, which will be across from the United Center, will be 125,000 square feet and will include two ice rinks. Construction is expected to begin next year and to be finished within two years.

Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have had a number of discussions about building a hockey facility in the past year. Wirtz said in June he hoped to move forward with the project within the year.

Wirtz has emphasized in the past how important the facility was for the area's youth.

"As you know, we only have three or four indoor ice surfaces now [in Chicago]," Wirtz said in June. "If, generally, a boy or girl doesn't know how to skate, they're never going to play hockey. So the suburbs aren't good in Chicago, but I think it's something that we, as an organization, can really promote. So we're talking about building an indoor arena with two ice surfaces. Ninety-five percent would be for the community; somewhere around the United Center. We're working with the city with that location. So I think that would be exciting."

The Blackhawks currently practice at the United Center and Johnny's IceHouse West, from which the Blackhawks rent space.

Emanuel will announce the redevelopment deal along with Blackhawks executives and local leaders on Thursday.

Malcolm X College previously announced it was relocating its campus to a nearby site. It will open on the new site next year.